Injury woes for Denmark while Cameroon struck by disputes within team
Denmark is hampered by injuries ahead of its World Cup match against Cameroon, with strikers Nicklas Bendtner and Jon Dahl Tomasson struggling to be ready.
JOHANNESBURG - Denmark is hampered by injuries ahead of its World Cup match against Cameroon, with strikers Nicklas Bendtner and Jon Dahl Tomasson struggling to be ready.
Both teams lost their opening games and will be looking for three points Saturday to boost hopes of challenging the Netherlands and Japan for a ticket to the second round.
Bendtner says he is ready to start against Cameroon, but admits he is not 100 per cent fit after being sidelined for months with a groin injury.
Coach Morten Olsen took a gamble when he fielded the Arsenal striker for 60 minutes in Denmark's 2-0 loss to the Netherlands. The Danish Football Association said Bendtner wasn't harmed by playing that match. But he's been training separately from the rest of the players this week at the team camp in Knysna, suggesting he's not in optimal shape.
Fit or not, Olsen is likely to rely on Bendtner to spearhead the Danish attack because he doesn't have many alternatives, with Dahl-Tomasson in doubt.
Denmark's all-time top scorer missed Denmark's opener due to a hamstring injury. The veteran forward's condition is improving, but he's still not fully recovered, the Danish F.A. said.
As for Cameroon, the Indomitable Lions are hungry for revenge after a disappointing 1-0 loss to Japan.
Despite an attack led by Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o, Cameroon never really challenged Japan keeper Eiji Kawashima. The Africans struggled with possession, and even when they put a few passes together, the buildup usually was wasted by poor crosses.
"We are not satisfied with our performance," defender Nicolas Nkoulou said, in comments posted on the Web site of the Cameroon football federation. "We made mistakes but not everything was negative. We will build on the positives to achieve a good result in the next match."
Achille Emana, a second-half substitute against Japan, dismissed rumours that team morale was hurt by a rift between Eto'o and some of the other players.
"I have no problem with Samuel Eto'o," he said, but admitted that "misunderstandings" had caused some problems in the group.
"We met, we discussed and these problems have been resolved," Emana said.
Denmark frustrated the Netherlands with a compact defence, but fell behind when defender Simon Poulsen, trying to clear a seemingly harmless cross, saw his header bounce off the back of team mate Daniel Agger and into the goal.
Dirk Kuyt added a second for the Netherlands as Denmark pushed for an equalizer.
Adding to the Danish woes, their training ground in Knysna was soaked by heavy rain, forcing Olsen to cancel the first practice after Monday's match against the Netherlands.